LOVE is in the air…and it smells like chocolate cupcakes and strawberry buttercream!
So I’m not going to lie, today was one of those days. The kind of day when you feel pulled in every direction and your cheeks are rosy from the quickened pace of your heart. Not the quickened pace from being in the presence of someone who makes your heart flutter though. No, not that kind…the kind caused by S-T-R-E-S-S! Ugh… Tonight, there’s a special
bottle glass of wine with my name on it (I hope).
The day wasn’t all bad though. It’s Friday before Valentine’s Day and I brought in some special treats for my co-workers. Yes, these Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream. How’d you guess? (wink) My co-workers are often the beneficiaries of my homemade treats. They’re a lucky bunch…most of the time…or so they tell me. So while the day was total chaos and a nut show, I was able able to put some happy faces on the people I spend 40+ hours a week with. And they in turn, warmed my heart (even more than it already was) with their appreciation.
I cannot say anything bad about this recipe. First, the inspiration came from Sweetapolita’s 6-layer Dark Chocolate Strawberry Buttercream Cake. I just made a few tweaks for cupcakes but it’s everything and then some in the chocolate department. Perfection.
This was my first time making a Swiss meringue buttercream and I was quite impressed by how different the flavor profile is compared to a simple or American buttercream. Swiss meringue buttercream is prepared by cooking the egg whites and sugar together in a bowl placed over a pot of simmering (not boiling) water. The mixture cooks while being whisked until the temperature of the mix reaches 160°F. The mixture is then removed from the heat and whipped at high-speed until stiff peaks form and has cooled. The result is a silky and smooth whipped topping that spreads beautifully. It also feels much lighter and isn’t as sweet as American-style buttercream. I thought this delicate buttercream was a perfect compliment to the intense flavor of the chocolate.
If you look close, you can see the little bits of real strawberries in the frosting! Since these were for Valentine’s Day, I decided to get all frilly and over the top with some heart-shaped quins and pearlized nonpareils. “Quins” and “nonpareils” are just fancy terms for different types of sprinkles. You too can attend Sprinkle School here!
All in all, work-wise, it was a crazy and stressed-filled day but I also realized that each of us have the power to make someone else smile – be it with a kind word, a pat on the back, or with these charming chocolate cupcakes. Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day, Gal-entine’s Day, or Family Day weekend (for those living in Ontario) – may your day and weekend be special in every way.
enjoy | liz | xo
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1-1/3 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 140 ml buttermilk
- 130 ml espresso or strong, hot brewed coffee
- 5 tbsp (75 ml) vegetable oil
- 2 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 5 large, fresh egg whites
- 1-1/4 cups sugar
- 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes and cool, but not cold
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup strawberry puree/jam OR a handful (about 1 cup) of fresh, washed, and dried strawberries, chopped (or more to taste)
- pinch of salt
- a few drops pink food colouring (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare two 12-cup standard muffin tins with liners.
- In the bowl of stand mixer, whisk the dry ingredients together.
- In a separate medium bowl, add the buttermilk, coffee, oil, eggs and vanilla and whisk to combine.
- Add wet ingredients to dry and using the paddle attachment, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Divide batter and fill each cup about halfway. Note: The batter will be liquidy.
- Bake for 20 minutes, then rotate pans. Cakes are done when toothpick or skewer comes out with a few crumbs, about 25-30 minutes total. Do not over-bake.
- Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Then transfer to wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
- If using fresh strawberries, place strawberries in a food processor, and process until a smooth puree. If too chunky, the bits will get stuck in your piping tip. Measure approximately 1/4 cup and set aside. (You may want to add more puree to taste).
- Set a small pot of water to simmer on your stove. In the clean and dried bowl of your stand mixer, add egg whites and sugar, and place the bowl over the simmering (not boiling) water. Whisk constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 160F. If you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
- Remove from heat. Attach bowl to your mixer and whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (approx. 10 minutes ).
- Replace whisk attachment with paddle attachment and starting on a low speed, slowly add butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated. Increase speed to medium-high and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture. *see tips
- Add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined. Add strawberry puree to taste and small amount of pink food colour (if desired), and blend until combined.
- If it curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth.
- If mixture is too runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes and continue mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together.
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